focused on my own experiences

When faced with the prospect of acting for film again I focused on my previous experiences acting on film professionally; for example, Bruce Beresford in 1978 explaining what we were doing in a scene and why he was slinging handfuls of pebbles around us at a speedway; it was ‘atmosphere’;

Recently going back and acting in front of a camera was enjoyable if not somewhat nerve wracking. I wasn’t expecting a call. One of my acting teachers Nick Enright always said, “Don’t sit by the phone expecting a call,” meaning you need to get out there and sell yourself, get involved, be creative and productive on your own behalf; back in the 1980s when Nick offered this advice things were different, no social media opportunities to promote oneself.

Over recent times if asked if it were true that I had been in a film I generally replied, “My last film was a silent movie,” because that’s fun and accurate.

In 2005 I played the Drunk Pedestrian in Dr Plonk (Rolf De Heer, 2007) a silent film. A fun experience with elements that nicely bookmarked my adventures in Australian Film up until that moment so if I had never been in another movie it would have been a nice tale to tell; how I had started with Money Movers (Bruce Beresford, 1978) and I think I met legendary stunt man Grant Page at Rolley Park Speedway on that shoot, and here he was overseeing my stunt in 2005 on Dr Plonk, very nice.

Rolf De Heer the Director was making the film by stealth on the streets of Adelaide, he’d had a thought that I’d be sitting holding a bottle on the steps of Parliament until Dr Plonk would blast past me knock me backwards as he did. Later as Dr Plonk passed me again I would be bandaged up as if in a cartoon. Rolf thought it would be amusing to bandage the bottle to my hand, as it was a fixture of the character, which all made sense in the crazy humorous world of Dr Plonk.

Grant Page was there to make sure I didn’t break my back falling backwards on the stone steps of Parliament and he was a little concerned because that bottle was a real beer bottle, not sugar glass, real glass. It was the point of some concern for Grant because I’d be swinging backwards onto stone steps and Grant did not want this bottle to smash in my hand, nor did I. Although I liked the element of danger because of the tensions a character carries; we’ve probably all seen the drunk who falls badly in order to save their bottle?

I have done some community announcement short films since 2005 but that was as myself or as a voice over so I don’t really count it as acting because it tends to draw from broadcasting. In 1987 at the Australian Film Television and Radio School I was one of a very lucky group of actors who were employed to work over several weeks with Ross McGregor and his students. We were working with the students to give them an insight into the way actors work. One of the added benefits of the job was being involved in day after day of workshops; another benefit was being there when Billy Marshall Stoneking was making a documentary with a First Nation indigenous artist and elder called Nose Peg. I spent a day working on some canvasses he was creating. Dot painting. I must remember to elaborate on that wonderful afternoon some time.

Yes, being part of the AFTRS course work was very much like attending acting school and at times like the National Playwrights Conferences or InterPlay the International Youth Playwrights  Conference at The Performance Space and Sydney Opera House in 1986 where scripts were being developed every day and people would be tapping us actors on the shoulder asking for a few minutes or hours or days to work on something. Extremely fertile ground; Ross McGregor offered insights that were spot-on with really good examples to go along with them, and being at a film school he would screen the scene or the film he was talking about and illustrate the examples he was making. One I remember well is some great advice about acting on film and thinking.  Using Sissey Spacek as his example in Bruce Beresford’s Crimes of the Heart (Bruce Beresford, 1986) a film with a stellar cast including Dianne Keaton, Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard, Ross asked us to watch what Spacek was thinking as she clutched her pearls for a moment in a head and shoulder shot.


He was drawing our attention to the actor thinking. It sounds obvious doesn’t it? An actor thinks in character. Someone may say, “Don’t over-think it,” and they may mean don’t fix onto something that blocks your natural flow or they may mean something else but you do need to be aware that as an actor in a frame that is part of a story you do need to have something going on in your head. Obvious as it sounds I think it is sound advice. There is nothing worse than seeing yourself gormless when you ought to have been on the ball.

When faced with the prospect of acting for film again I focused on my previous experiences acting on film professionally; for example, Bruce Beresford in 1978 explaining what we were doing in a scene and why he was slinging handfuls of pebbles around us at a speedway; it was ‘atmosphere’; or  John Meillon having a bad day on location during The Dunera Boys, conversations with Holly Hunter, Simon Pegg and Sir Ian McKellen about working on stage as opposed to film; particularly McKellen’s approach, ‘trust that you are naturally doing what they want you to do, if you’re not it is to their advantage to correct you’. I enjoy acting. It was all I ever really wanted to do and for a while I had the best job an out of work actor could have possibly had, I produced community radio.

In the late 1970s Liza Minnelli performed in Adelaide at the Festival Theatre and I went along. After her concert I waited to see if it was humanly possible ‘Hello,’ and yes, it was. I was sixteen and had seen ‘New York New York’ in its original theatrical release and loved every moment of it. I played the album at home on the stereo. I exchanged pleasantries with Liza, held her hand, gave her a gift. She was fabulous. I kept my cool but I said something without thinking, I said, “You were in Judy’s woumb,” and she said, “Yes, I was!” which is the best reaction I could have wanted. I hadn’t thought about what I was saying before blurting it out at her and to this day I’m grateful she was so gracious; Liza even sent me a thank you note which I think burned in a house fire in 1989.

Before I ever left South Australia I had met celebrities; plenty of local ones who were involved in the television production scene around the metropolis of Adelaide. A few international ones because Adelaide is not so big and back in the day there was no need to have security guards if you were Debbie Harry wandering around the South Australian Museum or Noel Crombie having a coffee in a café. People were far more approachable and accessible.

Poquoi 1984.jpeg

When I’ve been the person in the spotlight sometimes I have had encounters with people who have been really awful, physically abusive a few times; the best way to be if you wish to make a point is clear and non abusive I think.

I say all this because by the time I was doing a stint in community radio, producing a weekly show, I had already met all sorts of really well accomplished people. I think part of coming from Adelaide was having the International Arts Festival and a semi-regular influx of engaging art to see, and the artists of course.

In relation to community radio, being interested in art meant there were always questions to ask; talking about art draws you closer to the various elements that make it, also having been involved in creating art, well it starts to become a specialist area after a while I think and you discover different ways of talking about it that help construct engaging entries into whatever art you are focusing on.

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This comes out partially processed.


It has been raining a lot although this is not the season for such rain.
There are times I have longed for the rain; deepest pleasure is listening to rain falling. Feeling alive, at ease if I’m under shelter.

Out in rain as a young man I swam through billowing waves watching pure droplets of water sheeting from sky blend with brine. Lightning over horizon reminded me of pages from the comic book adaptation of Frankenstein I’d been reading; a classic in comic form.

Drawings of Victor walking through a storm
hope bubble’s bloom
aspirations of  harnessing life
force of electricity, superimposed over the watery scene

I bobbed along doing my best to stay afloat.
Since then I have often thought it my most enjoyable beach experience; alone, inside the water rather than looking below it as Dali depicted himself doing as a girl child, peeking under the surface from the relative safety of the shore.

Here I was; there I had been,
swimming most dangerously in the meeting of rain to sea,
devoid of shelter; I love to see the rain fall from inside the ocean.

I have been part of a tribe of film makers. We are a tribe who come together for a period of time that is scheduled into a process of hard work and magic. The tribe agree to follow a leader on a path. The path is scheduled into a process of hunting, gathering and collecting. Once everything at any point in the process of the path is present and exemplary a step is possible and often when possible the step is taken.


Obviously, we have been making a movie. We are not an actual tribe so much as a work group; thinking of us as a tribe helps, especially in the rain. I love standing quietly on location in the rain sometimes. I have two specific comparisons: somewhere in Victoria out of Melbourne I once played the part of a WW2 refugee being corralled into a rail-side sheep-pen on what was meant to be the hottest day of that particular year, we were making a mini-series The Dunera Boys (1985) it was the first time I had literally acted in opposite circumstances because while we were filming this sequence the weather was sleeting. The first time literally because it isn’t unusual to encounter this sort of situation in an acting class; an improvisation exercise that requires you to say one thing and do another, or where you may ask someone what they are doing and they say the opposite to what they are doing and you then adopt the activity they have stated. Meryl Tankard has a terrific exercise that requires you to deliver something in three different concurrent ways such as: Dreamily, Electric Toaster, Fire. Keeps you on your toes.

So anyway here we all were dressed in our undergarments including shoes and socks, meant to be having a break out in the fresh air as refugees and it is freezing cold. You act, ‘it is a very very hot day!’ and yet you are freezing your armpits inside out. I did not love that on the day. It would be doubtful that any of us loved actually doing that. We were able to shoot the scene because the sleet and rain would not register on the camera; Warren Mitchell and Bob Hoskins had moments to do in the sequence and it all needed to be shot so we were shooting it. There were a dozen or so of us in the sheep-pen including a couple of sheep for a while. I felt reasonably comfortable with the sheep because I had studied sheep husbandry at college and understood their perspective.

The sheep were not at all impressed with the situation but they were well tended and not over stressed in any way. The actors on the other hand were reasonably stressed simply by way of the fact that we were all so cold; otherwise though in those moments before a take, with my hand on a sheep’s back just between ‘stand by’ and ‘action’ sleet sounds so different to rain; wouldn’t say I love it. The second comparison is recently working on Rabbit in the Adelaide Hills during some big storms. So many rabbit spirits in the Adelaide Hills.

I read some Bukowski sitting around on location. His poem : the burning of the dream … It took me back to younger days.

This comes out partially processed. It does contain nuts because the machinery that processed it is full of them. You can link through to other thoughts. They do not always appear in any particular order.

October 2016

I don’t know why, or who taught it to me, but I got up and sang ‘Jesus is my keeper’ when I was six or seven.

His Excellency the Governor The Honourable Hieu Van Le AC and I September 2016

Rain, a lot of rain.

I have been part of a tribe

we have been making a movie

I read some Bukowski sitting around on location

His poem : the burning of the dream … It took me back to younger days.


This comes out partially processed. It does contain nuts because the machinery that processed it is full of them.

I wonder sometimes how odd it may be when I start sharing experiences. We all have experiences we only really discover are unusual after we’ve shared them and received some kind of feedback about them. My mother recently told me to remember I am now, “an elder,” her way of telling me to behave like an adult. Fair advice because I don’t particularly spend time thinking this way and timely advice because when she said it I was about to go off and do something I hadn’t thought about doing for a few years; acting.

When I first relocated to Adelaide from Sydney in 2005 it was to be nearer to my father whose health was failing. I left a very satisfactory situation behind me, something I surprised myself by walking away from. Inside the work of Community Broadcasting it is easy to become absorbed by ‘the moment’ interviewing people for a reason, getting to the point, highlighting any genuine significance and moving on with the clock. I enjoyed producing radio and interviewing people. I enjoyed being connected to things I love in a cosmopolitan city. I enjoyed being ‘on-air’ and occasionally having the opportunity to do something creative on my own terms.

Relocating to a city I had long left behind was motivated by emotional family bonds. Lifting everything up and shifting it one and a half thousand kilometres away is a large step for a guy like me. In 2005 Adelaide mainly represented early chapters of my life that were packed away with sealed sections untouched. As always there was a lot of unfinished emotional business for me in Adelaide that I didn’t much look forward to encountering a la carte.

After landing in Adelaide I sought out a community radio station to become involved and hopefully continue developing my skills. I had started a Training and Assessment Certification in Sydney in order to become a Trainer in Community Radio and had hoped to complete it; I knew things would be different in Adelaide. Sydney and Adelaide are vastly different.

I wanted to get involved in community arts, to hold on to some of what I had left behind; I knew it may be a struggle. Moving from a big place to a small place means everything is less; less opportunities (less people). This isn’t a value judgement, only a fact. Adelaide has a great deal on offer, but not as much as Sydney. There were also quite a few grey areas in Adelaide for me, after all this is where I grew up.

In my relocation I started out with full time work which went well for about a year until reduced funding turned it to a part time job just before I was sent packing for making a rookie mistake, so I shifted from having some security to oodles of insecurity rapidly. I spend a little time thinking “What was I thinking moving back here?” it felt like I had deliberately moved backwards in time and place by at least a decade.

When I was younger I had no great trouble shifting from Adelaide to Melbourne and then Sydney on busses and trains. It was a no-brainer to stay in Sydney because that was where the work was for me at the time and it wasn’t difficult to go to Adelaide and do something if required. I do not hold a driving license but I could grab a lift or get a bus, a train, sometimes fly if I had to go back to do something in Adelaide. I bussed over to do some dubbing of my scenes in Robbery Under Arms at my own expense because I didn’t want to be dubbed by someone else. In those days it didn’t cost much for an overnight bus ride and my little turn in Robbery was important to me because it was my first role after getting the thumbs down from NIDA.

I thought being same sex attracted was the result of being abused when I was younger and I wasn’t mature enough or self confident enough to seek out help for the feelings I had.



I had not been invited to continue into the second year of the acting course at NIDA so I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do at first. I had lived in Sydney for a year in a share house with other acting students, Cate, Rosalba and Kris. I had known Cate the longest and had already been in a share house with her while working for The Acting Company in Adelaide. It seemed that Adelaide was where I should go after spending a few weeks on the road with a fellow student William . He and I had visited yet another student Gail, up in Queensland to do some travelling over summer. We three were all waiting for our letter from NIDA to see if we were continuing in the course (although I knew they were not asking me back to act). I knew I was not really standing out or being what NIDA wanted me to aim at being, which was more or less a happy sort of fellow, bit of a joker, potentially suave maybe; I was generally anxious and getting more so as time passed. I didn’t like my living arrangements, I didn’t like being away from home and I didn’t like being same sex attracted. I thought being same sex attracted was the result of being abused when I was younger and I wasn’t mature enough or self confident enough to seek out help for the feelings I had.

I dealt with my feelings by ignoring them mostly which was anything but conducive to progressing in an acting course. I am pretty sure I spent most of my time at NIDA suffering from post traumatic stress. At that time I probably used acting and involvement in the arts as a type of distraction therapy on some level. I really enjoyed playing a part, leaning lines, becoming a character for the most part because it provided me a distraction from reality which I was not at all fond of.

Things had not started out this way. Reality was a fine thing for the first few years of life and the only performance I would do was singing. I have fond memories of singing at Church when I was very young. I don’t know why, or who taught it to me, but I got up and sang ‘Jesus is my keeper’ when I was six or seven.

I have only done a few performances in Churches in my personal life. There was my debut at Christies Beach Church of Christ in 1968 singing followed by some performance poetry around 1978 at the Port Noarlunga Uniting Church, then it would have been 1998 or thereabout when I took a role in the Nativity as a Wise King (dragging a couple of aspiring actor friends along with me) which turned out to be one of the most unintentionally hilarious moments I’ve ever had in front of an audience. In my professional life I’ve performed in plenty of church buildings and halls over the years because the architecture lends itself to being renovated into a theatre space so well.

That 1998 Nativity was just so funny. I had been directing a play and teaching some classes and I felt a hankering to do some acting on a personal level. I didn’t really want to go through a big audition process or anything I just wanted to volunteer some of my spare time to being in something and treading the boards so when someone asked if I may be interested in being in a play for a church that seemed a good idea.

I was in a Nativity at Kindergarten so I knew the story. Evidently the Church of Saint Luke needed a Wise King which I figured I could do. What I had not realised was how big the production was. It cast a net all through the parish; particularly through the parish’s extensive outreach program.

David Jobling 1984
Potts Point 1986

I once lived in Potts Point beside Kings Cross, which was a notorious part of Sydney and created theatre at venues like the All Nations Club, Wayside Chapel and the Stables Theatre, so used syringes in the gutters, drunks, druggies, sex workers were all part of the landscape. The Kings Cross area was a fascinating place to work developing theatre. At one point I was focused on development using a process mastered by film maker and playwright Mike Leigh while I was living in Potts Point. The process involved developing characters with actors in an isolated one on one situation. I had used a very similar process with Bruce Keller creating Puppy Love (albeit a childlike universe the process was pretty much the same).

Working with actors one-on-one meant going out and meeting them around the place and talking with them about their character or being with them while they were ‘in character’ and chatting, taking a journey, with me occasionally side-coaching them from topic to topic. We could meet in a bar, at a shop, on the street.  This was a very interesting process; the actors were all more experienced in film so their approach was quite different in relation to classical stage performance; everything more subtle and interior, in keeping with the medium.

During a ‘development week’ at Griffin I had directed a staged performance of a new opera by Gary Cook ‘On this Kings Cross’ featuring Angela Toohey as a waif in Kings Cross getting mixed up with drug dealers and sex workers, previous to that I’d performed staged -readings  of work by Alex Broun and others that explored the seedier side of 1980’s Sydney featuring  sex work and drug deals, murders, misadventures  so by the time I was fronting up to rehearse a Nativity in the late 1990’s as a recreational pursuit I felt pretty streetwise.

What I didn’t know about being part of a Nativity in a local church was what became so amusing for me at the time, shameful as it is in retrospect; I hadn’t met the whole cast because there were so many of them. I appeared in a few scenes beside two other wise Kings; we had scenes with King Herod, then at the birth of Christ and another as we left for our respective Kingdoms. My companion Kings were two fellows I had met briefly at a reading one afternoon. One of them had such a thick accent I could barely understand a word he said, luckily his lines always followed mine, unfortunately he did not really understand English so he tended to wait an uncomfortably long while before he would deliver a line. The other fellow examined his arm continuously because he had his script attached to it with elastic bands. I always spoke after him.

It felt like being in the middle of a BBC Christmas Special somewhere not too far left of Dibley when the Virgin Mary had quite a severe lisp too much make-up on her face; impossible to any natural good looks. King Herod’s turn was the Diva of the production; played all his scenes with such a silly voice it was seriously difficult not to fall about laughing.

The whole show started with the parish Priest running in calling out “Jesus is coming!” several times which started one of my actor friends giggling because we had been reading through some of Barry Lowes’ work about Joey Stefano, where there was similar language used in a different context; but these things trigger thoughts some times, double entendres can be any actor’s sudden death.

Being reminded by mum that I am ‘an elder’ gave me some pause for thought; the way reading Charles Bukowski does. I focused on my own experiences, Bruce Beresford in 1978 explaining what we were doing and why he was slinging handfuls of pebbles around us, John Meillon having a bad day on location in 1985, conversations with Holly Hunter, Simon Pegg and Sir Ian McKellen about working on stage as opposed to film; particularly Hunter’s approach to working with steady-cam, being precise and rehearsing. Holly Hunter likes to rehearse the moves; so do I.

Going back and acting was good.

I enjoy acting. It was all I ever really wanted to do.

Yesterday was so warm and sunny. Today it is cold and threatens to rain again.

With Ben Baker October 2016 ~ Photographer

DavidJobling: Designs & Collections on Zazzle

I have been building a range of products and made them available on line – when I say “building a range,” I mean I have been selecting images I have created and applying them to various things. Shower curtains, tiles, scarves, apparel…


The Pelican Tile
The Pelican Tile by DavidJobling
Find more Birds Tiles at Zazzle

I stop to take a look around me quite deliberately at times, with the view to capture something. A moment. I love birds and landscapes and when I see something I think you would like I capture it with my camera. It is a new thing to me, creating this way. I do all the creative work and someone else produces the product for me. In order to feel good and happy about this new venture I have tested the items myself and am very pleased with the results. I have a unique and beautiful shower curtain at home. I created the design and I love it.

Blue summer shower shower curtain
Blue summer shower shower curtain by DavidJobling
Look at Jo bling Shower Curtains online at


Items I have tested all arrived in good quality and condition from the manufacturer.

Although the work is available here on the internet I also bring it via a pop-up gallery, for more information check out SPLASH ADELAIDE here.

Source: DavidJobling: Designs & Collections on Zazzle

Experimental Non/Fiction Essay

Applying my appreciation the work of American artist Eleanor Antin and a random interaction on social media I created these two images informed by my life experiences.


Create art informed by life.


Task 29.02.2016

To complete this task you must engage in a real-life activity that is the result of a random interaction you have on a social media platform then create two original images in some way informed by the experience. To assist your creative process select an artist you have researched as an inspirational muse and describe how their work or artistic practise influenced your choices in the development of your work.

Present your notes and images.

You will need to: Identify a random interaction you have had on social media that directly caused you to engage in a real life activity.

  • Describe the interaction
  • Describe the resulting activity
  • Reflect on the experience providing detailed notes on your reflections
  • Produce two images that are informed by this random interaction you have had on social media that directly caused you to engage in a real life activity
    1. informed by the experience
    2. inspired by an artist you have researched
      1. Describe how the artist’s work or work practise influenced your thinking in this process


1              The interaction

I think how and why did I create these images is the penultimate question. I found it very random at the time; days ago I received a direct message from a man I follow on Twitter asking if I had seen the movie ‘Spotlight’. A random question to which I replied, “No, but I have read that it is a good film. I shall go and see it and let you know what I think,” I knew it was screening in some selected cinemas.

This man and I only occasionally send each other direct messages; direct messaging is not something I use Twitter for much. The rules of Twitter restrict direct messaging you can only send a direct message to an account that follows you that you follow back. Since I approach Twitter more as a broadcasting platform I generally reserve any direct communications to my regular private email.

Tugging a little more on this loose thread of randomness the man and I have only met once approximately twenty-three years ago for roughly fifty minutes possibly an hour. We’ve had no communication for most of the interim period until sometime in 2008 the time I joined Twitter; we have been following each other on Twitter since somewhere between 08 and 09 and have infrequently engaged in public Twitter dialogues. We have exchanged a few direct messages but we have only communicated about limited subjects; politics during elections, the republican movement and he, his brothers and sons all attended the same particular Catholic Boys School that had become the focus in allegations of child sexual assault.

On his Twitter feed when the allegations of abuse arose in the news he defended his old school announcing his support for members of staff whom had been called negligent; there was no abuse happening around him that he saw he asserted. As the story developed in the media and additional information emerged it was all a terrible eye opening shock to him along with many other men his age and he said as much very publicly through Twitter.

I had not seen the movie ‘Spotlight’ but I had read some reports calling it ‘… a good film,’ so from what I could understand it addresses the investigation of a news story revealing the extent of diabolical behaviour inside the Catholic Church; the film was released in 2015 the story it tells is set in 2001 but the incidents unravelled in the film’s story date back to the 1960s 70s, 80s etc.

‘Spotlight’ is based on a true story it is written and directed by Tom McCarthy, as I write the film literally is receiving a “Best Picture” Academy Award for 2016 live on the television while on the other channel Cardinal George Pell is broadcast via video link from the Vatican answering questions for the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Abuse.

I think both the random nature of his question via Twitter and my relatively superficial knowledge of the film ‘Spotlight’ when I received his question were triggers for me to envision the images I have created; essentially because as a result of being asked the random question my reaction was to check for the closest screening available to me and go see ‘Spotlight’ the following day at an afternoon matinee.


2              Resulting activity

Physically unaccompanied I took myself to the Adelaide beachside suburb of Semaphore where there was a screening of ‘Spotlight’ at The Semaphore Odeon Star. It was Saturday morning I travelled via an Adelaide Metro H30 Bus to Zone C West Lakes Interchange where I connected with an Adelaide Metro 157 Bus at Zone B West Lakes Interchange which delivered me to the corner of Military and Semaphore Roads, Semaphore. Upon my arrival in Semaphore, Eleanor a performance artist took a walk together admiring the views.

I attended an early afternoon screening of the film ‘Spotlight’ at the Odeon Star, 65 Semaphore Road Semaphore, South Australia. I watched the film in its entirety. I engaged in the film as well as observed the audience responses from time to time around me to the film.


Drinking Bird
Drinking Bird by DavidJobling
Browse for a different tile


3              Noted reflections

I was born in Whyalla in 1961 to migrant parents then mostly raised in a farming district near a small beachside village. My childhood beach was sand dune curvaceous, reefs, red-ochre cliffs; a Southern beach over an hour away from the Northern city beaches closer to our capital.

Blues greys greens speckling dull dirty white foam washed up on our local shore demon dark brown shark eggs’ peculiar pointiness on the white fine sand; even an old wooden signpost from China washed up to us once; dad erected it in our backyard and our family admired it enormously for its completely enigmatic qualities. It was an amazing wild nook of coast cleaner wildly gentler than those inner city beaches that tended to be long flat strips of sand beside rust coloured eroding walls of settled development; beautiful in another way for sure but nowhere near as lush in colour cavalcades or mercurial moods to my behaved ankle-biter’s eye.

I’ve vivid memories of visiting our big Port resonances of how it was a city much more exciting bustling better than the capital itself for all the animation a Port avails wide streets and warehouses under swirling flags. Semaphore is the suburb beside the Port and since my childhood days always has been nodded toward as the scruffy neighbour to the left of the glorious Port. Semaphore was established in 1849 and very much the entertainment destination of choice in its heyday, by 1980 it was in need of some sort of polish to perk it up. We all were.

The main street consisted of pubs, a club, The Ozone Theatre, Churches, Butcher, Grocery, Fish Café and the Odeon Star brutish bland blockish giants on the landscape although both theatres have attractive Deco features built into their architectural lines. Semaphore Road, the main street sits at a T-junction to the beachfront where a long jetty juts out into the sea.

The Semaphore Train Station was then literally on the wide main street a short walk from the beach which made it a favoured hive of leisurely weekend activity. Obligatory amusement park, faded carousel, historic tower, mini golf in the ozone. When I lived there I always felt the place was steeped with the ambiance of every Mid-West American 50s B-Grade Horror movie I had ever seen or read about in books. Last time I attended the Odeon Star would have been over thirty years ago; for a brief period in 1980 I resided in Semaphore when it was well past its undoubted original prime, despite time it has changed very little. My plutonic girlfriend a strikingly beautiful one-eyed woman my age and I share house rented a flea infested maisonette that backed onto the back of The Ozone Theatre. Late teen bohemians dabbing our brushes at life beyond our awkward 1970s – picking up the keys and moving-in on a classically hot dry South-Australian-summer’s day:

It was so hot I was only wearing thongs, footy shorts blue singlet. Our new Landlord reveals a penchant for pinching my right nipple a few times in quick succession rather than shaking hands; “Greek tradition,” he smiles.

He reminded the two of us of that lecherous character in a ‘Carry On’ film or a popular British television comedy ‘The Benny Hill Show’ only younger, mid-thirties. Cheeky grin dimples sly smiley dark eyes darting around reading you over all below a friendly black curly hair fringe; he wasn’t unattractive at all but after those nipple tweaks I self-noted ‘always slip on a shirt if I see him coming through the front gate,’ he terrified me. How to respond to such dark eyed twinkling winks with nipple tweaks? Blank.

Yet my one-eyed friend and I laughed hearty incredulity at his incredibly confidant nature in manhandling me, “In front of his wife and kids,” she pointed out as we laughed with my stupid stunned-mullet-flesh internally crawling. She thought he was flirting with me; I had no idea, short circuited my brain. When he touched me I froze up all astonished road kill kangaroo in the headlights. No classical education Greek tradition didn’t mean anything to me. Once we discovered that his maisonette was infested with fleas we made every effort to move out as quickly as we could including shampooing the white shagpile carpet with scalding hot insecticide and still having hoards of fleas sticking to our legs like thigh high winter socks part of the disgusting process.

The single benefit of this property we ultimately very briefly rented; we could sneak into the rear Fire Door Exit of The Ozone Theatre directly behind by slipping through a gap in our back fence. The Ozone was dingy dusty smoky very run down at the time I recall however it was redeemed for all of that, The Ozone Theatre screened amazing deliberately alternative films that you couldn’t see anywhere else around except in books about films.

I saw most of Andy Warhol’s films for the first time in my nineteen year old life at The Ozone Theatre over a marathon weekend including some of his most obscure ones. Eleanor Antin once pointed out to me that Warhol influenced my perspective at that time in so much as I became open to watching something more closely than I had consciously done; at least since watching a documentary about Albert Schweitzer a few years prior to that which is a different story.

My bus ride into Semaphore, revisiting place, memories, trails of thought teased open started me to think of the conversation I’d had with an American performing artist, filmmaker and photographer born in 1935 whom I interviewed in 2002 during the 13th Biennale of Sydney: (THE WORLD MAY BE) FANTASTIC. She created highly stage-managed constructed images in a way that causes them to resemble stills from films of the classic silent era.

The main street of Semaphore is particularly wide and provides great views of striking late 1800s architecture up to and including the 1940s. The long wide vistas and the Deco style of the theatres reminded me of Eleanor describing her desire to find the correct angles, create exceptional images in scope worthy of the filmmaker Cecil B. DE Mille, around Brooklyn where she grew up. Eleanor wanted to, “…find the perfect position to shoot from that utilises the grandeur of great architecture. It was everywhere, plenty of it. I would always be looking for that perfect spot, where to place the actors in the frame,” she’d told me.

In conversation together we found acting and film common denominators, we easily spoke of frames, atmospheres, fashion, design, dressing sets, character development; my interview with her became an extended conversation between us long after the formally allocated interview time had passed. Eleanor’s musings on hometown location scouting flashed me back to glimpses of striking architecture around Semaphore I’d noticed in 1980; long walks after Warhol marathons.

Eleanor and I walked from the Museum of Contemporary Art on Sydney Harbour through the historic convict built area known as The Rocks to Eleanor’s hotel; spoke about Warhol, the buzz around him. She loved the architecture around Sydney, questioned me about my origins. I mentioned Australian architecture I admired; marathon viewings of Warhol films in the context of fluidly being able to sneak into my own home through the fence, make a coffee, roll a joint flea-bitten yet exponentially more street-savvy in my rented maisonette, which Eleanor found amusing fabulous universal. Eleanor suggested Warhol provided me with the bridge to look around and see Semaphore in a different way; right she was. I had not sat through a lot of trashy slow moving films for no reason, some of them were hilariously funny from the outside like life is. Having patience enough to sit with a different context and observe even when it doesn’t even necessarily make any sense can be a very rewarding thing, with my 1970s teenage years just literally past it was eye-opening, mind expanding to have alternative pop culture on film a happy distraction in an otherwise pretty yet dully remote unforgiving isolated scorched little place. My impression of Eleanor Anitin somehow met me at the bus stop in Semaphore long enough for us to reconnect.

I strongly relate to Antin’s frame and the way she presents characters in her work, always thought through, doing something thoughtful. In 2002 Eleanor Antin had directed ‘The Man Without a World’ since then she has completed two short documentary projects 2008 ‘Classical Frieze’ and in 2013 she co-directed a documentary short ‘Fragments of a Revolution’.

Her process appealed to me partly because I appreciated how she started out thinking acting was her calling then soon realised it was more than that desire for being on the stage; she wanted to create from the ground up which included everything. I had experienced the same thing when I shifted from acting in a play to writing building the set for it then taking that outside onto the big location working with JMD a photographer around Melbourne in the dead of night on the Theatre of Instants series we created. The frame is a terrific laboratory for creative development, ‘the empty space’ as Peter Brook has called it the three dimensional canvass. Eleanor’s feature film was inspired by a poem that was part of her Jewish cultural heritage. We talked about the difference in adapting and translating a poem as she had done with ‘The Man Without A World’ and a short story as Barbra Streisand had done with ‘Yentl’ into a film.

I’m certain I brought Streisand into the conversation because she was a Brooklyn character I knew and could see some general parallels between them. Strong Jewish women, visionary, creative, outspoken; Eleanor didn’t reject Streisand’s creative or business abilities nor did she ridicule me for even making the comparison she may have found me very naïve in an antipodean curiously witted sort of way though it was she whom engaged me continually through to her hotel room where we ensconced talking talking talking, she sitting on her bed, I on the customary chair in the corner.

Eleanor laughed when I had to turn the cassette tape over for my recording. I was recording on a one hundred and twenty minute tape, I’d filled both sides, hadn’t thought to bring a spare, it was borrowed University equipment, “Chunky, old, dated,” she said laughing at technology.

Eleanor undid her blouse fanned the humid Sydney evening from her face with the Biennale program a faint scent of Tennessee Williams Magnolia in the air gentle, inoffensive, she knew she was in safe company. We talked about being ‘the outsider’ without ‘a real job,’ all the clichés artists face the type of conversation suggests all the best draws to force open in the cabinet of self. At the Odeon Star I watched ‘Spotlight’ among an audience of approximately thirty other people.

The film follows a small team of Boston journalists in 2001 investigating the possibility of a cover-up in the local Catholic Church related to child sexual assault perpetrated by a Priest. As the journalists uncover more facts of the story their faith in the Church and fellow man is questioned.

Once their story is published it resonates over a vast scope exposing the extent of the problem inside the Catholic Church all the way to Semaphore South Australia. During the end credits of the film a list of Dioceses directly affected by this world wide cover up is shown on screen to further illustrate the extent of the problem; when Australian Diocese appeared on the list some members of the audience audibly reacted with a combination of jeers, hissing and more specific statements in raised voice which I failed to capture fully.

It was very evident to me as I was leaving the auditorium after viewing the film the audience were no more than a random group of people there was nothing to indicate they were all part of one particular club group or organisation. Their audible response made a deep impression on me. I marvelled at the reaction. Had this been a comedy and the audience all laughed at something funny in unison I would have felt part of the team as it were; however the greatest revelation in ‘Spotlight’ is a stark shocking example of stepping back and re-examining faith. Faith in one’s self to be precise about it. Faith in identity. Faith in truth. Faith in faith.

As a film on some levels it reminded me of ‘All the President’s Men’ and ‘The China Syndrome’ at times in tone and style but mainly stepping back looking directly at the way it wrestles with the slippery battle for an acceptable status quo among powerful institutions and estates casting light where light has been cast before. What is different here is the global shadows cast by things caught in the spotlight.

I took some thinking time to process the content of the film, clarified my thoughts and came up with this:

In recent years much has been exposed about the Catholic Church, incidents of child abuse, hierarchy of certain Diocese providing expeditious getaways for perpetrators of sexual assault against children enabling them to continue to do so.

Many representatives of the Church have gone on the record denying first and eventually apologising for turning a blind eye or not fully appreciating the gravity of the circumstances at the time.

Inspired by the American performance artist Eleanor Antin and seeing the film ‘Spotlight’ I separately invited two different strangers to pose for me so I could construct an image based on my reflections on the experience of seeing the movie ‘Spotlight’. I selected the strangers based on the way they looked and on condition they were adults willing to consent to this experiment.

I considered this experimental gesture worth a try in the spirit of creativity on my part because both strangers fit visual impressions I have of characters I wanted to portray in the images I create as a result of the experiment. If the strangers said ‘No,’ the images I could see myself creating using them as my models would never happen.

Lucky for me the strangers both agreed enabling me to set two different dates for two different photographic shooting sessions in order to capture my basic images which I will creatively develop later.

I sought two frames offering me dimensional space to enhance the interaction of light with the structural forms of the particular bodies I had imaginatively placed in the two frames who would become the ‘bodies’ embodying two generalised characters I wanted to construct.

Image One – The Abusing Priest

Final Priest for essay


I shot my first stranger and set him free knowing I had captured the essentials I needed to create for my first image, The Abusing Priest.

We have all pictured as we listened if not seen these men denying or apologising on our radios televisions in our newspapers. Men with a certain soft clarity illuminating their resolute expressions. You may or may not know their names but you will have heard their voices or if not of their activities and would likely nod or grunt in agreement in order to agree.

Thinking about who these characters I am constructing are was to be my first priority and I am informed by the testament of others in the way I imagine them; understandably comparatively speaking we have seen only a handful of victims of these abusers come forward to talk about their experiences yet we have seen enough of them to compile a generalised understanding of whom these victim identities are, in a completely reduced sense they are men who were once boys involved with Priests inside a covenant of faith and trust.

I requested the stranger pose shirtless holding his hands up in a particular way, palms facing out. I had formed generalised opinions about The Abusing Priest character that I wanted to highlight; a natural symbolism emerged in my imaginings of what would be in the frame I could easily see figuratively what I wanted to render, also, inspired by Eleanor Antin I wanted to extend myself and bring words as poetry into this image.

Words tie things down in a different way than the way images tie things down. To create an image I shine a light, to create a more intellectually guided image I find the words to say that will allow some emotional flow to remain with after I have finished with because they set out a pathway to a mental image. I wanted to achieve a fair balance between the words and the image so they were present visceral together without cluttering the frame. The words in The Abusing Priest seek to compel further scrutiny.

I produced The Abusing Priest by forming a representational character a generalised visualisation. If you did not know the title of the work it would be very easy to read any number of alternative meanings from the overall image. This is the poem I composed to feature as part of The Abusing Priest.

Yo listen up!

Need to bust some rhymes, seen Church-abuse crimes treating faithful children in a sexual way (better praise your Lord for that big ass expose!) no surprise I got some stuff to say;

I read it on-point in some journalist’s column but it’s an iceberg tip of a bigger problem. Yeah the Church is franchised all over our globe but theirs is not the only house in need of a probe. I fear it is the way of the masses massed today to think generally that there’s nothing more to see truth is I would say we are barely on the way.

Image Two – The Captured Boy

While identity is a theme explored in Eleanor Antin’s body of work her artistic exploration has involved her playing self-constructed characters based on her research and experiences so I would say her theme encompasses self-identity as much as identity in a more general sense; when we spoke Eleanor set out various compartments where she was “the outsider,” as a woman, as a Jew, as a female Jewish artist. She informed her work with her own culture and responses to it. Her work offered opinions on her life as much as anything. To be respectfully clear I do not write of the female experience for I am not.

I represent myself alone and recognise universalities in our human experience. It’s a challenge for a victim of child abuse to discuss the abuse even in a controlled environment such as a Police Station Interview Room where random pauses must be made to change cassettes or turn them over.

Further reflection on other responses I had included recognising personal dread as the conversation around child abuse becomes so narrowly focused on the Church.

A question: “What is not being seen beyond this spot lit area; I know something is there.”

I do have faith it will come into view eventually. The film ‘Spotlight’ is directly about the Church yet The Abusing Priest describes that as only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the overall issue of child abuse if I care to consider it macroscopically. I do appreciate that the wheels of change turn slow and these days the attention span has been taught the opposite way to go.

On tee-vee internet radio stings are short turnover is fast spin your head trends get one blink to last. There can never be any joy in recounting an experience of violation for anybody. Try to mine a man and mind most men don’t freely discuss their general day to day feelings let alone their greatest traumas; clear to me in some cases their unwillingness to discuss personal feelings is the result of some form of sanctioned abuse; disciplinary actions in clubs, teams, careers or even in schools up to a certain era… any striking incident of abuse made upon them that has left unresolved feelings of trauma will resound at some time from its bottled-up basement baggage-section depository. We can be our own worst enemy. Very complex even Kafkaesque.

Sydney Opera House feature
Sydney Opera House feature by DavidJobling
Browse Zazzle for a different photo tile

Adult men seeking justice in the courts for sexual crimes perpetrated against them as boys best be located in a State or Territory that grants them the right to do so without restriction. In a case where a Statute of Limitations is placed on taking legal action after a certain period of time has passed since the alleged abuse the victim must endure life at the pleasure of the State; in at least one case living with the knowledge that the perpetrator and their associates continue to perpetrate crimes adds to a list of distractions playing on the mind of the enduring surviving victim. Laws made by rulers tie place and time down in a political numbers frown when it comes to accountability evidently allowing the activity of the abusing paedophile’s proclivity a barefaced blind eye.

Aye, as the revelations of child abuse inside the Church appear to the collective ‘we’ I believe we inevitably glean enough information to compile our generalised understanding of who these abusers were and …their boy-victims? We hear from some of the scattered flock some of the former lambs of God; betrayals of trust in the Church, wrestling questions of faith sexuality and trust. As the institutional hierarchy sit with its sanctioned madness in courts of reason we question our faith. In what do we trust?

When adult men seek justice in the courts for sexual crimes perpetuated against them as boys they must overcome any and all barriers in communication they are living with such as Post Traumatic Stress, Dyslexia, Stuttering and Deafness to name a few simple examples. Living with complex emotional problems, depression, mental health issues, can only be a challenge to one’s ability to communicate requiring exertion of accuracy. The legal process is challenging for anyone let alone the emotionally or mentally disturbed. For a male victim of child abuse to discuss said abuse in an environment where words are the only acceptable form of communication they must be confidently versed and fluid with words as an individual.

Informing my character and realising them in the photographic frame (if the character represents a boy captured by abuse) required a style of creative development Eleanor Antin explored; get inside the character as if we were developing them as an author for a play or a film which intrinsically means answering the questions of ‘who, when, what, why and how?’; but mine is a very circumspect portrait of someone internalised. Different to The Abusing Priest. The Captured Boy is an illustrated internalised monologue, a reflection, a memorial.

When adult men seek justice in the courts for sexual crimes perpetrated against them as boys they must overcome long term internalised fears often including unresolved feelings of guilt for being abused in the first instance.

The next waves of victims eventually Agnostic or Atheist etc. victims of child sexual assault crash on our shore revealing more offering emerging stereotype after emerging stereotype  expanding our awareness.

Inside the Police Station Interview Room the victim is asked to describe the incident or incidents of abuse one step at a time until the whole story is told. The victim’s description is recorded, transcribed and presented to the victim for corrections or further clarification to be made wherever there may be some doubt as to the accuracy of the description. Once any changes are made the victim will be asked to sign the transcript of the description as a Witness Statement which will be used as evidence in any resulting legal proceedings.

I shot my second stranger after very clear discussion as to what it was I was attempting to do because it involved nakedness and binding his hands. Prior to the arrival of my model at the designated location I dressed the stage based on a clear description and sketch of the image that I had made, a ‘mock-up’; I also used this ‘mock-up’ to describe what we would be doing to the stranger who consented to take part in the shoot despite the disturbing elements.

At the end of the shoot my second stranger/model left feeling comfortable and clear in his mind as to what he had participated in. As I work on the image in the background on ABC24 a live broadcast from The Vatican; a Cardinal. Questions. Answers. I respond to a post on Twitter:

A good Catholic trained to shed its sins as easily as a viper sheds its skins.

Applying my appreciation the work of American artist Eleanor Antin and a random interaction on social media I created these two images informed by my life experiences.

The Captured Boy

Word Count 4984

Monuments Erected on the Ruins of Modernism

Tobsha’s play Is it Buckskin that holds the hand? was a minimalist work that evoked cabaret and existentialism really nicely with some repetition that became absurdly amusing for a sophisticated audience.


When I was a younger fella in 1983 I had the great honour of doing some very fun things. One of the breakout moments came when I returned to Adelaide after spending a year or so in Sydney at NIDA. My mind was not in a great place after a year at an acting school so I took an adventure with a friend and eventually ended up back home in South Australia doing a play called Ball Boys with Douglas Mason at what was then called ‘The Red Shed’ for the Fringe Festival. Douglas and I had met at the Adelaide Theatre Group.

We shared The Red Shed with a company that had driven over from Melbourne called StraightFace Productions. They were doing a few short plays by Tobsha Learner a young writer and sculptor. Part of the posse travelling with StraightFace was JeanMarc Dupre an artist and printmaker.

JeanMarc and I spent some time buzzing around Adelaide and enjoying eachothers company. The Adelaide Fringe Festival was yet to go mega mainstream and Tobsha’s play Is it Buckskin that holds the hand? was a minimalist work that evoked cabaret and existentialism really nicely with some repetition that became absurdly amusing for a sophisticated audience. They managed to get a great shot on the cover of the Sydney Morning Herald which impressed everyone no end at the time.

JeanMarc chatted about lighting with me. As a photographer he was interested in lighting in a very organic way. A lot of what he was saying reminded me of Artau a writer whom had written about using natural forces to light the theatre so JM and I found a lot to discuss which with his thick accent was always an inspiration. We talked about the statues around Adelaide in relation to a piece he was thinking of and before I knew it we were out in the middle of the night taking long exposure photographs.

For me, this came after a year of working my butt off as best I could among some of Australia’s finest actors and creative types; I needed to get away from myself at NIDA more than anything because the more that was stripped away the more I realised what a mess my head was in. Ouch. It was great to be back in the free world and able to mix with artists who were ready to create. JM encouraged me to come to Melbourne; Tobsha encouraged me to come on over, so I did. I lived for a while with Tobsha and then in a spare room at Jean-Marc’s home.

This made it possible to continue with the notion of the physical interacting with the inanimate with the artist painting the black open frame with light via exposure and other secret artists’ business.

Jean-Marc was honoured to have these photographs shown at ANTHILL Gallery as well as part of other group exhibitions. Wonderful work. The woman who appears, Bryony Hawkins whom I also knew from Adelaide Theatre Group.

MERM crop
Photography by JeanMarc Dupre

This is Monuments Erected On The Ruins Of Modernism
MERM 362,5×27 (20p) in low res for your viewing pleasure. I did it as a young actor… you can explore more of this work at Two Moon Press

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